Chocolate Mousse

by Stephanie

This is a super easy dessert.  In fact I had Avery make it (she’s 8).  If you are looking for something velvety, chocolate and SUPER easy…this is it.  You can add in a 1/2 tsp of allspice like the restaurant where I got the recipe or 1/2 tsp cardamom like I did, or cinnamon like I am going to next time..or just leave it pure.  Up to you….


Chocolate Mousse

Serves 6

2 cups good chocolate chips

1 pint heavy cream

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp of allspice (optional)

In large microwave proof bowl add in cream and microwave until skin forms on top (for us this was 2 minutes).  In the meantime in food processor or blender add in chocolate chips and pulse a few times.  Add in heavy cream and allspice if using to chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds.  Then mix on high for 30 seconds.  Let sit another 30 seconds and add in eggs.  Pulse again for another 30 seconds.  Pour into six bowls or ramekins.  Let set up in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  You can top with sweetened whipped cream, but it is divine all on it’s own. 


Homemade Ice Cream Base

By Stephanie

So I can’t take credit for this at all!  My niece is a great up and coming chef.  Any recipe I get from her is fabulous.  My sister-in-law told us about it when she came to visit and help with Avery.  This one requires some of your own creativity, or better yet, let your kids decide.  Or not. Whatever you want.  If you don’t have an ice cream maker, get one.  Make sure it is a 2 qt. size.  After attempting to make this I realized mine is caput.  So it’s on the list of things we need to get…at some point.  Make vanilla and top with my easy chocolate sauce, or my salted caramel sauce, toasted nuts or it is great plain.  Use your imagination to make up a new flavor profile.


Homemade Ice Cream Base

2  14 oz. cans of sweetened condensed milk or for a recipe...click here

1 large package of instant vanilla pudding mix

1 pint heavy cream

2 tsp good vanilla, or insides of one vanilla bean

1 quart milk, plus some more if needed

In large bowl (I use my biggest Pyrex glass mixing bowl) it needs to be at least a 2 qt size, add in everything but milk.  And whisk to combine until pudding is dissolved.  Then add in milk.  If adding in other things add this time and pour into ice cream maker.  Add in more milk to 2qt. line.  Process as ice cream maker instructions. 


1 cup crushed strawberries, blueberries or black berries,

2 cups crushed sandwich cookies along with 1/2 tsp peppermint extract,

3/4 liter of root beer or orange soda,

1 cup toasted coconut and assorted nuts like pecans, walnuts and almonds. 

Use your imagination!!


Carrot Cake

by Stephanie

I know carrot cake is usually a spring thing, but my darling (and pregnant) friend made a super yummy one last week.  It was the Paula Deen recipe.  Always a good choice.  When I was telling my kidos about it, they mentioned that they had never had carrot cake.  And since we were having leftovers for dinner, I was a good mom and made them one.  Next time I will wait until we are having someone over for dinner.  I ended up throwing away about a quarter of the cake.  I HATE throwing away good food.  And as you can see I made mine in a 9X13 pan.  But it is prettier if it is in two round pans.  I also chopped the nuts and added when I served it..darn nut allergies (not mine, my daughters).


Carrot Cake

Serves 12-15


2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups fresh graded carrots

8 oz crushed pineapple

1/3 cup coconut

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Combine flour, soda, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl.  In mixer combine eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth.  Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until blended.  Gently fold in carrot, pineapple, coconut and nuts (if adding).  Pour into 9X13 pan (or two 8 or 9 inch round pans) that are sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (it took me 35 minutes, but my oven is low).  Take out and let cool for 5 minutes while you prepare glaze.  Poke cake with knife to make holes for glaze.  Pour glaze over cake and let cool completely.  (if using round pans let cool 15 minutes then flip out onto wire rack to finish cooling).  Then ice with cream cheese frosting and top with chopped pecans.


In medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup butter, bring to a soft boil.  Let boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Pour over cake. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8 oz package cream cheese

1/2 cup butter softened

3 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla


Sunshine and Miracles

by Stephanie
For those of you who know me, this spring was especially hard.  We moved from Vegas last Sept. to the Northwest coast.  It rained in Vegas, about every 30 days.  And we had cloudy days…occasionally.  Up here in the Northwest, rain and clouds are the constant, or just about.  I had seasonal depression before when we lived in Idaho.  But usually by May it was gone.  Not here.  It was July 26th, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law had come to visit and it was 64 degrees!  I cooked a turkey because I refused to turn on my house heater in JULY!  It just seemed wrong.  So the oven on for four hours was enough to heat up the house.  Depressing just thinking about it!
I had planned on taking the kidos for two weeks to get some sunshine, but then the doctors had found Avery’s tumor the end of June.  But she was perfectly healthy except for the occasional seizure.  I was afraid my vacation couldn’t happen.  But then they said it was a kind of tumor that basically didn’t grow and wouldn’t ever be a problem for her.  Our church had decided to do a special fast for her and our family.  At the time I felt a little silly since it really seemed to be nothing.  And there were other families, like my friend Jami and her son Billy who was born with a heart condition and needed another procedure, that could use the prayers and attention.   Vacation was back on, hurray!!  We went to Idaho, Wyoming and Utah.  I got sunshine.  I remember the second day of being at a pool, I told my bff (Dawn) I finally felt “normal”.  I felt like myself again after literally months of depression.  I didn’t realize how bad it was, but once I was back in sunshine, I felt a huge difference. 
After reflecting on the events of the past few months, I feel that the reason Avery didn’t have any other symptoms of her tumor until August was to give me time to get some sunshine and rejuvenate.   That fast was for me.  That I needed that in order to deal with what was coming.  I can’t imagine dealing with Avery’s surgery and health while seriously depressed.  It would be bad.   So thanks to those to fasted and prayed for my little girl and our family.  It was a miracle that  I needed.  And I am very grateful.


Potato, Bean and Bacon “Soup”

by Stephanie

So fall is upon us.  At least here it is.  And along with that canning and the last of the fresh fruits and veges. 

My darling friend Jami brought her daughter to hang out with Avery for a few hours on Saturday.  And also brought some fresh green beans from the batch she had for canning.  I LOVE fresh green beans!  I love them as a side dish, but this “soup” is amazing too.  Quick, easy and warm on a brisk fall night.  All in one pot so less dishes too.  And it is continuing our "bacon” theme.   And in about 20 minutes too! 


Potato, Bean and Bacon Soup

serves 6

1/2 lb. thick sliced bacon sliced into 1” pieces

2-4 cups water

5-6 medium potatoes diced into 1” pieces

1 lb. fresh green beans sliced into 1” pieces

1/2 tsp Salt and pepper

In large pot put in bacon and start to cook over low heat.  Stirring occasionally until fat is rendered and bacon is starting to crisp.  Add beans, potatoes salt and pepper.  Then add enough water just to cover.  Turn heat to med-high and bring to a boil.  Turn to medium and cook until potatoes are fork tender.  Turn off heat and serve immediately.   I LOVE a pat of butter and more salt and pepper to finish it off.


Endocrinology and shoes

By Stephanie

We are still wondering if Avery’s pituitary gland is working.  Right now she appears fine, but you can’t survive if your pituitary isn’t working without medication.   They will take her off all the meds in2 to 3 months and test her to see.  You can’t really test the pituitary, you have to test the glands it runs.  It’s kind of hard to know for sure.  Some things, like growth, we can’t tell for months or years.  For other things, like blood sugar, you can check right away.  Right now her thyroid is borderline low.  So they are putting her on a low dose of a thyroid med.  And she is cortisone dependant.  It is what the adrenal glands make.  She could die if she doesn’t get enough.  Kind of scary.  They are decreasing her dose to a more maintenance dose rather than the bigger one they had her on right after surgery.  It affects anything that your body reacts to, like stress, illness, injury, her body can’t respond.  So we have to give her a 3X dose of her hydrocortisone if any of those things occur.  It is a lot to remember, but I am getting better.  I can even spell most medical terms almost correct the first time. 



I am OBSESSED with these shoes.  They are a high heel (for anyone who knows me well I prefer at least 3 1/2” heels).  They are a black oxford type shoe with a ribbon tie.  I found a few that totally fit the bill…only they are $200 at Zappos. Not in the budget.  Sears actually had some at the end of their season, but by the time I saw them they only had 5 1/2’s left.  I am NOT a  5 1/2.  So I have been hunting them ever since.  If you see some, under $60, let me know. 


Book Review

by Stephanie
First of all, a reader, Anne has a question about the laundry soap.  I have been TRYING to email you back…no luck.  Old computer.  Very sorry.
Anyway, mine thickened right up.  So I would just review the steps again.  Make sure your bar of Fels-Naptha is melted down completely and the water is hot.   If you did this, I will ask my mom, she has made it more than I have and might have a suggestion.   Put your email address in your comment, and I will get back with you.
I read LOTS while in the hospital with Avery.  One I read that I liked (kind of a fluffy piece) is the The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale.  It is a bit cheesy.   And at one point I wasn’t sure I would like how things end up (I am sucker for a happy ending).  But it all turns out fine.  And it is a fairly quick read too. 


504 Plan

by Stephanie

So we have Avery’s 504 plan ready.  What is a 504 plan you ask?  It is something that the school puts in place in order to assist a child.  Not if they are mentally disabled.  Only for physical needs.   Like if you have a kid that is diabetic and they need their blood checked every 30 minutes, they would assign an aid to be with them to be monitoring that. 

In our case Avery is functioning very well in the classroom.  It is when there are a lot of kids in the hall way that she needs help.  She also isn’t allowed to participate in recess or PE right now.  Just so she doesn’t get hit in the head with a ball or get bumped and fall down.  Her dr. said both feet on the ground at all times.  And she is SUPER competitive.  So just sitting out feels like she is being punished. 

The school is having someone who will walk her to class.  And take her to the counselors office during lunch.  On rainy days the kids are all inside playing games anyway, it’s just on these sunny days she will have to be inside when they are all outside.  Fortunately for her (and unfortunately for me) these sunny days are all but over. 

Oh and bathroom breaks.  She needs an adult there, just in case she falls over.  She still is a bit unstable, especially when she bends down. 

The school has been amazing to work with.  Her principal and counselors know her well from last year and I feel like they are doing the best to make her feel safe and take care of her needs.  And this isn’t forever.  I am hopeful that by Thanksgiving she will be for the most part back to her normal routine. 

We also think that she has had limited site for a LONG time.  That this has been going slowly and she didn’t even notice.  So really she has been functioning with almost no peripheral vision for a while.  So for her, her site is back the way it was before for the most part.  Kids can adapt like that.  Luckily.  But we will have to see over the next six months what she gets back. 

And she slept till 12:45pm on Saturday.  Even with part days at school she was wiped out.  She won’t be going full days for at least another few weeks.


Hot Shots

By Stephanie

FINALLY, another recipe!!  I have been wanting to post this recipe since before our extended stay at the hospital. 

My friend Jami made these for the 4th of July.  And I was craving them.  So I bought all the stuff to make them, and then we ended up in the ER.  My darling friend Jami made them so Friday night when we got home from the hospital, I could have some…yum.  But I didn’t think to take a pic.  So I was craving them again…and this time I did take pics. 

If you are like me and only have a gas grill, this drips LOTS of grease and can start a grease fire.  So either do them in the oven or put something underneath to catch the grease.  My brother-in-law found this out the hard way.  Sorry Ty!  Now we know. 


Hot Shots

makes 24

12 jalapenos

1 package little smokies

3 oz cream cheese, room temperature

12 slices thick cut bacon (or really any kind you have)

Cut jalapenos in half lengthwise.  Take out seeds and ribs.   Put about 1-1 1/2 tsp cream cheese into it and then add a little smokie.  Cut bacon pieces in half and wrap one half piece around jalapeƱo.  Put onto wire rack on top of sheet cake pan or put on grill.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until bacon is crisp and pepper is soft.  I actually broiled on low for 5 minutes at the end to crisp up the bacon. 


Beary good

by Stephanie

My darling aunt that lives in Ontario, Canada sent her this HUGE bear.  And look…finally a pic with a smile.  That is nice to see.



Special Request

by Stephanie

If you were thinking of sending Avery something, and just didn’t know what to send her, she really could use one or two of those track suits.  (she is a 10/12 or a 10).  We have lots of appointments we are going to be going back and forth and I think she would feel comfy in a track suit.  Plus those days she needs to just sleep, they feel as good as pjs. 

But REALLY, don’t run out and buy her one if you weren’t already planning on sending something (yes, Kathy Roller, I am talking to you).  But IF you wanting to send something already.  This might be a good idea. 

Or if it is easier and cheaper, send a gift certificate.  We have about everything within 10-15 minutes from our house. 

And thank you to everyone for all the cards, dinners, laundry, house cleaning, snacks, magazines, stuffed animals and prayers.  We are so very blessed!!

Sleep and Meds

by Stephanie

So we made it through our first night home.  She is still having trouble sleeping.  And getting up and down the stairs is very slow and she HAS to have someone with her.  But she had a shower, washed her hair and is doing pretty good.

We still don’t know if her pituitary glad is working.  They have her on a VERY strong steroid that is taking over for it right now.  Over the next 10 days we will wean her off that one and then get her on Hydrocortisone.  Then they can test her adrenals to see if they are working or not.  I am hopeful that they are.   Otherwise she will be on meds for the rest of her life.  Which is fine.  However, I am really hoping that her pituitary is going to come back and be fine.  But in the meantime, if she gets sick, breaks a bone, gets in an accident, or any other high stress situation…she needs extra Cortisone or if she can’t take a pill…a shot.  I had to learn how to give a shot.  Hopefully that NEVER happens.  But now I know how to. 

I also had to order her a medical id bracelet.  I just got the one from Medic-alert.  That way they have a number to call to get additional info on her conditions and meds.  It wasn’t any more than the ones without the phone number.  And once we get it she wants to take the band off it and make a beaded one.  So it looks more like jewelry.  Ok.  You just had brain surgery, so I will accommodate your need for bling.